Some of you guys had follow-up questions and/or comments I made about Jeremy Maclin and the WRs a few days back.
I was a big fan of his during his time at Missouri. Mac blew me away with how good he was. Look at his college numbers. Mac scored 33 TDs in only 2 seasons. That is mind-blowing for a WR. He ran for 6. He caught 22 TD passes. He had 5 return scores. The man was a big play machine. Every time he touched the ball, he was a threat to score.
Mac won’t turn 25 until May, but already has 258 catches and 26 TDs. He has been a good WR so far in his career.
Jeremy Maclin is a guy that I’ve never heard a bad word about in terms of him the person. If I had to pick an Eagles player to be a neighbor, Mac is probably one of the guys I’d have at the top of the list. From everything I’ve heard, he’s truly a good guy.
This sounds like a player everyone should love, but that’s not the case. Some people think I’m too hard on him, but Jeremy is a highly frustrating player. While he is a good WR, he’s not lived up to his potential with any consistency. This isn’t a question of talent. It is a question of…heck, I’m not sure what the word is.
I think my biggest complaint is that Mac doesn’t show a sense of urgency. The nickname “Self-tacklin’ Jeremy Maclin” comes from Jimmy Bama. Jimmy has put up some posts (here and here) showing Mac’s desire to avoid contact. No one expects him to be a player that knocks over defenders left and right as he powers his way into the endzone. That said, Mac is too quick to go down.
DeSean Jackson played it safe in 2011 because of his contract concerns and it affected his play. Mac also plays it safe, but can’t use the contract excuse. DJax was a 2nd round pick. Mac was a Top 20 pick. After 4 seasons, Mac had earned almost 3 times as much money as DJax in his first 4 years.
You can accuse me of being too hard on Mac since he’s out there on the field and I’m just blogger boy. That’s a fair point, but…I know for a fact that there are players who are frustrated with Mac’s soft play, especially when it comes to blocking. This is where understanding character vs football character comes into play.
I would prefer Mac as my neighbor over Michael Irvin, but which guy would I want on the field late in a tight game? Irvin, and it isn’t even up for debate. Irvin was a jackass and drug user and a lot of bad things, but on Sundays he played hard and with an ultra-competitive spirit. Mac’s talent is legit, but his soft style of play is also very real. This will either change under Chip Kelly or he’s gone. Simple as that.
The Eagles are $25M under the cap, but haven’t shown any interest in extending Mac. You can bet they are trying to figure out if the light will go on this year. Andy Reid didn’t push Mac very hard and that allowed him to play the way he did. Kelly will change that. He will push Mac. Blocking is now required from receivers. Don’t do it and you’ll sit.
I sincerely hope that Mac embraces the new culture and starts to play more aggressively. When he’s at his best, Mac shows big time ability. He runs good routes. He can make tough catches. He has good speed. I think his biggest enemy is himself. To steal a line from Bill Parcells, Mac is willing to let good enough be good enough. That won’t fly under Kelly.
I hope this clears up my thoughts on Kelly and gives you a better feel for the situation.
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As for the overall group of WRs, there is a perception that the group is still small. That’s really not the case anymore. DeSean Jackson and Damaris Johnson are the only two undersized guys.
Riley Cooper is big. So is Arrelious Benn. So are fringe guys B.J. Cunningham and Marvin McNutt. Ifeanyi Momah his huge, but a fringe guy. Maclin and Jason Avant have average size.
Right now DJax and Mac are the starters and neither is a big guy so I get that angle, but the group has more size than ever. It sure seems like Kelly wants more size at WR and I’m assuming he’ll use the big guys. Time will tell on that angle.
Interesting note on Momah, Adam Caplan mentioned the Eagles gave him $85,000 to sign. That’s nothing huge, but it does show a level of interest beyond just adding a camp body. Momah is still a project to be sure, but he’s huge, runs well, and has some potential. Real interesting addition.
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Beyond Mac’s adjustment to Kelly, I’m nervous about Jason Avant. Jason has been a good Eagle since he was drafted in 2006, but he’s not fast, he’s not a huge guy, he doesn’t have RAC ability. There’s just nothing compelling about him, besides having good hands and being a very polished receiver. Is that good enough in the Kelly offense?
Avant is a leader. He is tough. He will block. He’s the guy you want to keep around, but there are no guarantees that he’ll be a part of the plans. Depending on how things go in the draft, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Eagles tried to shop him. He wouldn’t get much in return, if anything. Veteran players are having a rough offseason. Just ask guys like Eric Winston and Charles Woodson.